5. MORAL QUESTIONS-EUTHANASIA
While there are differences between Methodists and Roman Catholics
on certain moral issues, there is, of course, much that could be
affirmed jointly. We all agreed that this subject should be given
priority in our future studies together. Unfortunately, an original
plan to include moral theology in the present series of talks came
We were, however, able to consider a statement on euthanasia prepared
by the Methodist Division of Social Responsibility and endorsed
by the British Methodist Conference of 1974. It seems to provide
a good example of a moral question on which we can all agree. After
examining the arguments, the statement rejects voluntary euthanasia
but recognizes that doctors attempting the adequate control of pain
have occasionally to use treatment which has the side effect of
shortening life. Examples are given when medical interference to
prolong life is inappropriate in the light of the patient's total
situation. Withholding such interference is not euthanasia, which
essentially consists of an action aimed at precipitating death.
The Catholic members of our joint Commission felt they, too, could
wholeheartedly endorse this Methodist statement, especially the
positive section on the Christian attitude to death and the pastoral
care of the chronic sick and the dying. It is here that the ultimate
answer to the problem of euthanasia lies.
Cf. infra, § 116.
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